Employee Appreciation Ideas That Boost Retention in The Skilled Trades

by Desiree Grosman in August 30th, 2022
Employee Appreciation Ideas That Boost Retention in The Skilled Trades

If you own a skilled trades business, you know what a massive headache employee turnover can be. The cost of recruiting, hiring and training isn't limited to your bottom line — it impacts everything from employee morale to the quality of your work.

Employees in the trades often work long hours, in difficult conditions, and are under a lot of pressure. Plus, we're facing a labor shortage like we've never seen before. That means keeping great employees happy, motivated, and engaged is more important than ever.

Let's discuss the practical impact of showing appreciation to your employees, the different ways of recognizing employees, and some creative employee appreciation ideas that will help you retain talent.

The Impact of Employee Appreciation on Turnover

If you lead construction crews, manufacturing teams, or any other type of blue-collar workforce, you've probably experienced firsthand how stressful employee turnover can be.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the construction industry suffers from some of the worst turnover of any industry — total separations rates were as high as 65%. With each one of those separations costing businesses an estimated 33% of that employee's annual salary. So it's no wonder that the cost of employee turnover is a major concern for construction managers and blue-collar HR teams.

But it's not just the financial cost at stake. Every time an employee leaves, it causes disruptions to workflow, decreases morale among the team, and can even impact your customer experience. So investing time, energy and money into employee appreciation is a smart move for any business, but especially those in the skilled trades.

A study by Gallup recently showed some powerful statistics on how employee recognition can help reduce turnover:

effects of employee recognition on turnover
  • Increased Retention: Employees are 5x more likely to see future growth in their role with the company
  • Better Morale: Over 70% rate life to be more positive and thriving
  • Increased Productivity: Burnout decreases up to 73% 
  • Boost Engagement: Active employee engagement increases by 4x 
  • Culture Building: Employees are 5x more likely to feel a part of their company culture

Different Types of Employee Recognition

In order to attract and retain employees, it's important to offer competitive wages — and you probably do this already. But money isn't always the only thing that motivates people. If you want to keep your crew happy, engaged and productive, you'll need to think beyond promotions and end-of-year bonuses when it comes to employee appreciation.

First, know when to recognize employees. It's important to catch people doing things right, and this could be anything from going above and beyond to help a customer, completing a project on time and under budget, following safety protocols, or finding a more efficient way to do their job. 

You don't have to wait for employee appreciation day to roll around... You can acknowledge winning team members year-round. 

Employee recognition ideas include:

  • Employee of the Month/Quarter: Recognize an employee who is excelling in their role.
  • Perfect Attendance Awards: Give a small gift to employees who show up like you expect them to consistently to cut down on absenteeism.
  • Spot Awards: Reward employees for exhibiting specific behaviors or completing small tasks successfully.
  • Performance-Based Bonuses: Give employees a bonus for meeting or exceeding specific goals set for the individual, department, or the team as a whole (healthy competition can be a powerful motivator!).
  • Milestone Awards: Celebrate work anniversaries with special acknowledgement (Team Engine makes remembering work anniversaries easy with message automation!).
  • Peer-to-Peer Appreciation: Involve the whole team — help employees recognize one another for good work.
  • Manager-Led Recognition: Encourage supervisors to thank employees for their hard work in meetings or through other communications. 

Even new employees can be recognized in their first days with the company with a welcome aboard gift. This helps new team members feel appreciated from day one, and goes a long way to building up company culture.

Second, know how to recognize employees. Get creative with your employee appreciation. Again, think about what would motivate your employees and offer rewards that are tailored to them. The next section should get your wheels spinning with some creative employee appreciation ideas.

Creative Employee Appreciation Ideas and Incentives

Employee Appreciation Ideas for Trades Workers

Employee appreciation ideas come in all shapes and sizes. The type of recognition you choose will depend on your company culture and the personality of each of your team members. The most effective employee appreciation programs mix several different types together. 

Something as simple as consistent praise from managers and supervisors can really foster team building. Pulling someone aside for a pat on the back and a few kind words shows that you're noticing and appreciating an employee's hard work. And for some people, they prefer this more subtle, private type of recognition.

But for others, public recognition is what motivates and helps employees thrive. This could be anything from announcing an employee of the month to giving shout-outs during meetings with the entire organization.

Rewarding your team with creative perks and incentives is a great way to not only keep your current employees happy, but also to attract new employees to your company. 

If you feel like you put out a job description and no one bites, or you can't seem to keep good help around for more than a few months, offering unique benefits and perks can help set you apart from the competition.

Creative employee appreciation ideas to show how much you value their work include:

  • Financial rewards and bonuses
  • Flexible work hours or remote working options
  • Childcare benefits
  • Public acknowledgement
  • Additional paid time off
  • Company swag or branded gifts
  • Tickets to events or experiences
  • Gym memberships or fitness stipends
  • Better break room amenities or complimentary food
  • Work related tools, equipment or softwares that make their job easier

Even upgrading your fleet can be a great way to boost employee morale. It shows you're invested in their comfort and success. 

If your company vehicles are old and unreliable, it can put a lot of stress on employees who drive to countless job sites each week. Investing in new trucks that don’t break down, or even just better van shelving and storage, can make life easier and make their workflows more efficient.

And for employees that care about honing their skills, special trips to industry training events, conferences, or paid-for specialty certifications can be a great way to invest in their future.

How to Implement an Employee Recognition Program in Your Contracting Business

How to Implement an Employee Recognition Program in Your Contracting Business

If you've been feeling like it's time to implement an employee recognition program in your contracting, manufacturing or service business, there are a few things you'll need to do to make sure it's successful.

Get buy-in from your managers and supervisors

They're the ones who will be giving out recognition on a day-to-day basis, so they need to be on board with the program. Make sure they understand why employee recognition and team building is important, and give them some guidelines on what types of behavior warrants recognition.

Come up with a system for tracking and measuring employee recognition

This could be as simple as keeping a spreadsheet of all the times employees are recognized, or by using your CRM or sales software to track metrics based on performance. 

There are also competitive platforms that use point systems to help you gamify your employee incentive program.

Establish clear goals for the program and track progress over time

Know which departments are suffering from low morale or high employee turnover and target those areas specifically. Know your turnover rate and monitor it to get an unbiased picture of how it improves.

Rotate rewards frequently to keep employees engaged

Not all employees will be motivated by the same things, so it's important to mix things up.

Customize rewards and incentives to individual employees or departments. 

For example, if you have a lot of employees who are parents, you might want to offer more flexible scheduling or additional paid time off. If you have a lot of millennial employees, you might want to offer more experiences. If your team values learning new skills, you could pay for a class or certification, or send them to an industry conference.

Employee appreciation is one of those things that can evolve and grow over time, so don't feel like you have to have everything figured out from the start. Start small. Pick one of the employee appreciation ideas from the list above and try it out for a month. See how employee engagement is affected and go from there. Always get feedback to see if employees like what you’re offering.

Team Engine can help you build your workforce with high-quality skilled trades workers who will stick around for the long haul. With our pre-employment filtering and employee retention features, you can spend less time finding new hires and more time recognizing and rewarding your current team. Watch a quick, 2-minute demo to see how we can help you find and keep your dream team.

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